Of the cabbage white butterfly, rubber duck debugging and working from home

Our latest MakoTalks podcast sees us in conversation with Grzegorz Bartczak, a tester here at MakoLab. It weaves from ergonomic mice, via working from home and changes in the sector to choosing your work tools. It also takes in something else that should grab your interest. And that is? The questions he came up with during his job interview with us… and it’s highly unlikely that they’d ever been asked before!

What on earth could they have been? Read on to find out! 

I don’t know if you know, but in Poland today, we’re celebrating Cabbage White Butterfly Day! Which set me of. I started spinning a crazy thread… that IT is seriously rooted in the animal kingdom! I mean, there’s the famous debugging duck, we have Mozilla’s Firefox and not a stroke of work would be done without a mouse. Linux has its penguin and we not only ‘speak’ Python but also use its pandas.DataFrame. Can you think of any other references to the world of fauna?

Broadly speaking, as part of the company’s DevOps, I deal with supporting applications, reviewing logs and events and responding to incidents. I can also be involved in working on automatisation, like building cloud infrastructures, for example. In addition, over the past few months, I’ve been mentoring aMy first thought was of the ‘profligate butterfly’… the cabbage white… and I even started wondering if you were winding me up… But no. From my standpoint, only cats exist. There’s no world beyond them that I can see. Well, maybe I manage to cram the rest of the household in between the felines! (he grins) Personally, I reckon there’d be no problem with using cats to describe the whole world. t a DevOps boot camp. The first ‘boot-campee’, Przemek, completed it successfully this month.

But you use computer mice, don’t you? There’s a lot said about how we should use a good one.

It’s highly enjoyable. Interesting problems crop up and need solving and the atmosphere on Grzegorz Sztandera’s team is genuinely great. Of course, there are sporadic difficulties, although thanks to the outstanding people, we find the right way to deal with anything and everything.

When it comes to an ergonomic workplace, what makes you one of the exceptionally small group of IT pros who prefer working in the office?

From the perspective of the past three years, it’s a bit abnormal, you’re right… but it’s an abnormality that suits me just fine. I guess I’m part of the generation that prefers to keep their home and their job apart, to go out to work, be at work, do their job, leave work, leave their work at work and head home, rather than having everything all jumbled up together.

Everything was great at the start of the eighteen months stuck at home during the pandemic. Close to the fridge. Very close. I’d even go so far as to say too close. When you start work at eight, you get up at seven fifty, ‘wife-beater’ undershirt with blobs of last night’s mustard on it, that kind of feel. Nobody looking at you, nobody interrupting you… not counting the rest of the household, who are all stuck at home at the same time.

And that’s the first minus. After six months or so, something started to click with me. My worlds were getting muddled up. There are three of us at home. We all had our own room to sit at the computer and work in and then we’d meet up somewhere between those spaces. I had the impression that, basically, I was there with the family twenty-four hours a day, which isn’t always entirely comfy when it goes on for a long time. Even though I love spending time with my family, there’s a limit.

When I come into the office now, I often laugh to myself that I don’t come here to be with other people. And that’s what it’s like, actually. Not so many people in the office. There’s a hush, it’s peaceful, no cat treading all over me, kneading me, perching on my head, settling in my lap… There’s one other person in the project office. We don’t need to talk a lot. Quiet, calm, contemplation… work.

In other words, the situation’s kind of topsy-turvy. Before, that’s why some people stayed at home, for the peace and quiet. But since the cats are the whole world, don’t you miss them when you leave them at home the whole day long?

But hang on a minute! What a welcome I get when I come back! That’s what it’s all about. You open the door and there’s at least one someone racing up to you, at least one someone greeting you. It’s a wonderful thing.

Well, that’s true enough. If you want someone to welcome you home, you do have to go out first…

Right. And the plus of pluses is that work stays at work. Before, when I was working from home, first during the pandemic and then after it for a while, I had the feeling that I was always at work.

Of course that form of working offers its own possibilities. If you have to start later or work on a bit longer for instance… or if you’re waiting for a plumber or electrician or expecting a courier delivery, then the home office is a brilliant thing. Mind you, why can’t they all come at the same time rather than each of them on their own?!

I think you’re the only person who’s ever asked that! So, how did IT enter your life?

It was after loads of professional adventures. While I was still with the company I worked for before MakoLab, I realised that I was becoming a de facto tester. What’s more, I was starting to enjoy it. As part of the projects I was piloting as business owner, I received bits of software for testing. I had to check whether they worked and conformed to the requirements and, in the end, I began feeling that I was having fun doing it. And not even because it offered the chance to point out people’s mistakes to them… “No, not like this, this isn’t what we agreed”… What was great was the opportunity of dig around in the software, play around with it in a way that an ordinary person doesn’t. It turned out that the company had an extensive testers’ department and they found a place for me. I was able to train and I’ve been a tester since 2019… and at MakoLab since 2021.

So what did you do before?

I was working on servicing commerce… not just customer service, but also servicing the system, continually extending it and deploying all sorts of tools designed to make our job easier.

Then you’re another person who’s living proof that it’s possible to wind up in the IT sector at any time.

It’s absolutely possible. And what’s excellent is that something’s always happening here. You’re not stuck doing repetitive jobs. If you’re going to be effective, you have to seize what’s on the market… new tools, new solutions… and use them. That gives you a sense of not standing still. Something’s always changing and even if you’re working on just one project, there’s never a time when you don’t have the chance to develop.

What do you like most about MakoLab so far?

I came here from a fairly large organisation, so what I like here above all isn’t just the relaxed everyday atmosphere, but also the more concrete approach to a number of things in project management. It’s easy to get lost in large organisations… and to feel more at home here. Although if I’ve been escaping to the MakoLab office from home, then it looks like I’m going to have to find somewhere else to work! (he grins)

Even though there aren’t all that many people in the corridors at the moment, fundamentally, I have the impression that I’ve known everyone for years. At the first integration event I attended, MakoChristmas, which was just sixteen days after I’d started work here, I had a wonderful time and absolutely no sense that I actually only knew everyone from Teams.

Coming back to animals and, just possibly, setting the cat among the pigeons, there’s an eternal battle between the penguin and Windows. Which team are you on?

To use one of my favourite words… I’m eclectic. I use what I need for what I need it for. If it ceases to exist, it ends up at the back of the wardrobe, so to speak, and I don’t give it another thought.

Maybe there are groups of Linux and Windows hooligans out there somewhere, duelling it out, beating the living daylights out of each other on their keyboards at dawn. I’d more likely be standing on the sidelines, munching popcorn. In my eyes, a thing’s fine as long as it’s useful to me. If it’s not, then I won’t give it houseroom on my hard disc.

That’s an approach I really like and I think it’s a great way to round off our conversation, as well. In other words, let’s not fill our heads with unnecessary stuff and let’s use everything in moderation and thoughtfully. Remote working, tools, knowledge… And don’t let’s chase blindly after a fashion for a fox or a penguin or staying at home just because ‘everyone’s doing it’… 

22nd June 2023
8 min. read

Kamila Braszak

Employer Branding Specialist

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